July 26th 2003

  Buy Issue 2662

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Universities: battleground for next election?

EDITORIAL: Helping the disabled

SPECIAL REPORT: Ethanol: the untold story

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Star Wars / Provocative

AGRICULTURE: Murray River debate hotting up

QUEENSLAND: Values make a comeback

Will Saddam win Phase II of the war? (letter)

Anti-Western animus (letter)

Deflation causes (letter)

Australia's population challenge? (letter)

Christian victims ignored (letter)

COMMENT: Abstinence: the new trend in sex education

GOVERNMENT: Democracy needs a professional public service

COMMENT: Iraq and future US foreign policy

HONG KONG: Mass rally forces back-flip on national security law


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BAUDOLINO by Umberto Eco

by Michael Daniel (reviewer)

News Weekly, July 26, 2003
by Umberto Eco

Random House
Available from News Weekly Books for $24.95 plus p&h

Reviewed by Michael Daniel

In his latest novel, Umberto Eco, Professor of Semiotics at Bologna University, whose previous works include The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum, returns to the Middle Ages.

Baudolino begins in 1204 during the sack of Constantinople by the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade.

The protagonist, Baudolino, rescues a Byzantine court official and historian, Niketas, and as he undertakes the hazardous task of protecting him, Baudolino recounts his extraordinary life story.

Born in a small village some decades earlier to peasant parents in northern Italy, Baudolino's life changes when he encounters a German commander in the local woods, who turns out to be Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor.

Baudolino captures Frederick's attention with his quick mind and soon manifests his other attributes: a flair for languages and an uncanny ability to lie and convince others of the truth of his lies.

The Italian is adopted by Frederick, joining his entourage. Baudolino gathers around him an eclectic group of friends. Together they are involved in a series of amusing, if unscrupulous adventures, from which Baudolino inevitably succeeds in extricating himself.

As the novel progresses the reader becomes less and less certain at what point Baudolino is lying and at what point he is telling the truth, such that by the time he recounts his journey to seek out the fabled kingdom of Prester John, the reader is certain that most of the narrative is make believe with its accounts of mythical creatures and unicorns.

Baudolino is an entertaining novel from one of the great twentieth century authors. Throughout the work Eco demonstrates his extensive knowledge of the fascinating historical background.

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